India Hartley, a famous and beautiful actress, is now alone after her father’s death and embarks upon a tour of theaters across the South. Her first stop is Savannah’s Southern Palace. On the eve of the second night’s performance, something goes horribly wrong. Her co-star, Arthur Sterling, is shot dead on stage in front of a packed house, and India is arrested and accused of the crime.
A benefactor hires Philip Sinclair, the best—and handsomest—lawyer in Savannah to defend India. A widower, Philip is struggling to reinvent his worn-out plantation on St. Simons Island. He needs to increase his income from his law practice in order to restore Indigo Point, and hardly anything will bring him more new clients than successfully defending a famous actress on a murder charge.
Because India can’t go anywhere in town without being mobbed, Philip persuades the judge handling her case to let him take her to Indigo Point until her trial date. India is charmed by the beauty of the Georgia lowcountry and is increasingly drawn to Philip. But a locked room that appears to be a shrine to Philip’s dead wife and the unsolved disappearance of a former slave girl raise troubling questions. Piecing together clues in an abandoned boat and a burned-out chapel, India discovers a trail of dark secrets that lead back to Philip, secrets that ultimately may hold the key to her freedom. If only he will believe her.
Dorothy Love will rope you in and prove that actresses can be respectable in her newest historical mystery. I love the way that she wrote the beginning. Love starts out with high action and speeds you through a scene, then backs up and shows you the events leading up to that pivotal moment. She uses that technique several other times in this story, and it’s just as effective each time.
India’s story takes a twisted path as she fights not only to clear her name but also to find love and a future for herself. She is faced with one crisis right after another, and there’s rarely light in the distance. It must have been very difficult to put one foot in front of the other during this time, and yet India’s struggle is encouraging in this way. Her determination and persistence in the light of her bleak future and lack of family is inspiring.
Despite the dire possibilities looming before her, parts of the story moved a bit slowly. It’s not that things weren’t happening – Love was setting the stage for higher action later – and much of the story consisted of emotional drama. Still, I was happy when the plot speed increased and the mystery moved along.
The realistic historical setting is my favorite aspect of A Respectable Actress. While I liked India, Love knocked it out of the park with the history that she incorporated into the story. She included references to real events in addition to basing certain characters and places ones that actually exist. I love knowing that these places are real, and Love’s descriptions make me want to take off for Georgia and see what remains.
Dorothy Love is an excellent writer. She breathes life into history and creates feelings from numbers and facts. Her storytelling is smooth and she knows how to build suspense. A Respectable Actress shines the spotlight on a little-known attitude in American history – and it’s fascinating.
A native of west Tennessee, Dorothy Love makes her home in the Texas hill country with her husband and their golden retriever. An award-winning author of numerous young adult novels, Dorothy made her adult debut with the Hickory Ridge novels. When she isn’t busy writing or researching her next book, Love enjoys hiking, traveling, and hanging out with her husband Ron and their rambunctious golden retriever. The Loves make their home in the Texas hill country.
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.